How Social Media Affects Your Job Search

Job Seekers: Beware of Sex, Drugs and Typos

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For boomers and retirees who are looking for work, the labor-market data are looking good, but as any job seeker knows, landing a job comes down to the details — your industry, your location and, increasingly, your online profile and presence.

If you’re looking right now for, say, a job in the leisure and hospitality industry, you’re facing stiff competition in the form of an unemployment rate of 8.3%, versus a 3% unemployment rate for government workers and a 3.5% rate for those in the financial sector, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data for September, not seasonally adjusted.

Meanwhile, job seekers who live in Georgia face an 8.1% unemployment rate, compared with rates under 4% in Utah, South Dakota, Nebraska and North Dakota, according to preliminary BLS data for August, seasonally adjusted.

Still, while it might be difficult to change your industry or location, you do have control over your online presence — and that matters.

Fully 79% of recruiters and hiring managers said they’ve made a hire through LinkedIn while 26% said they’ve hired through Facebook and 14% said they’ve hired through Twitter, according to the seventh annual Social Recruiting survey from Jobvite, a provider of recruiting software and tools for companies. There were 1,855 survey respondents nationwide, including some Jobvite clients.

For some industries, LinkedIn “has almost become a substitute for a résumé,” said Dan Finnigan, chief executive of Jobvite. “Recruiters trust what people put on LinkedIn because it’s public.”

After looking at LinkedIn, he said, recruiters then “turn to other places online, like Facebook and Twitter, to find out more who you are and whether you’re someone who, in their judgment, would be a fit in the company.”

That said, not every industry has a strong presence on LinkedIn, and job seekers looking for a non-management role might have better luck on Facebook.

“It does depend on your occupation. LinkedIn is quite strong with middle-management and above in most industries now,” Finnigan said. “For people like that, without a doubt they’ve got to pay very close attention to their LinkedIn profile, maintain it, keep it current, connect to as many people as they possibly can.”

The bad news is that your social-media presence can cause a hiring manager to scratch you off their list of candidates. More than half — 55% — of the recruiters surveyed said they “reconsidered a candidate based on their social profile,” up from 42% who said that a year ago.

And 61% of those recruiters said the social profile of the job seeker led to a “negative reconsideration.”

What sorts of posts and comments may lead to a negative reaction from recruiters? References to illegal drugs and posts that are “sexual” topped the list, but profanity and spelling mistakes also posed a big problem.

Specifically, 83% of recruiters said references to illegal drugs caused them to reconsider a candidate negatively, 70% said sexual posts, 66% said spelling and grammar mistakes, 63% said profanity, 51% said references to guns and 44% said references to alcohol, according to Jobvite.


Why does spelling matter so much? Recruiters and hiring managers “want people with good communication skills and people who pay attention to details,” Finnigan said. A grammar or spelling mistake “suggests there may be downside risk with regard to their ability to pay attention to details.”

Recruiters “want to put the best people with the lowest risk and the highest potential in front of managers,” Finnigan said. “It’s not surprising they are looking at this material for reasons to screen people out.”

But if you like expressing your political views online, there’s good news for you: 69% of recruiters said they view political posts as neutral, rather than positive or negative, in their decision to consider a candidate.

Tight job market affects social-media practices

The Jobvite survey did reveal a slight shift among recruiters away from hiring via social-media networks. Specifically, while 73% of recruiters in the current survey said they’ve hired through social media, that’s down slightly from the 78% who said that a year ago.

Also, while 79% in this year’s survey said they’ve made a hire through LinkedIn, that’s down from a whopping 92% who said that a year ago.

Jobvite’s Finnigan said that is mainly due to an increasingly competitive job market, one in which recruiters find it difficult to find qualified candidates.

“The decrease in the number of hires through LinkedIn supports the notion that social media is no longer enough on its own for recruiters,” he said. “LinkedIn is still a part of recruiters’ overall strategies.”

Don’t set it and forget it

Be sure to make the most of social-media networks: You need to have a profile posted, but also try to be actively engaged in communicating online.

“Share professional-related information that you find interesting, that says something more about who you are professionally and what you’re interested in professionally,” Finnigan said. “That keeps you front of mind for people and increases the likelihood that, if an opening pops up, recruiters think of you.”

Also, pepper your profile with keywords related to your industry. What types of terms tend to appear in job ads related to your desired position? Try to use those keywords in your profile, so you pop up when recruiters search for you.

This article originally appeared on MarketWatch.com and is reprinted by permission from Marketwatch.com, ©2014 Dow Jones & Co. Inc. All rights reserved.

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